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ESOL Provision in the UK and Ireland: Challenges and Opportunities

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Edited By Freda Mishan

Situated within the context of unprecedented levels of inward migration to the UK and Ireland bringing with it all the complexities of integration, this volume focuses on a key aspect of this - language provision. Through the voices of stakeholders in the field of teaching English to speakers of other languages (ESOL), this volume critically examines models of language provision and integration, the relationship between language and identity, developing ESOL practices and ESOL policy. A distinctive feature is the diversity of contributions, ranging from research studies to vignettes presenting living portraits of ESOL practice on the ground. The volume fills an urgent gap in this area, offering a snapshot of the ‘state of the art’ of ESOL in the UK and Ireland and projections of how the needs of new migrants can be addressed into the future.

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3 Socioeconomic class and learning English as a second language: A case study of Gujarati women in London (Smita Ray)

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Smita Ray

3 Socioeconomic class and learning English as a second language: A case study of Gujarati women in London

abstract

This chapter explores how social class can be considered one of the most important markers of identity for learners of English as a second language. The studies of second language acquisition (SLA) in the context of transnational migration have not adequately explored the ways in which inequitable relations of power limit the opportunities the speakers have at their disposal to practise the target language outside the classroom. Findings of a qualitative study involving migrant Gujarati women of Indian origin learning English as a second language suggest that the gender-role pressures exerted by the traditional, patriarchal, religious cultures of South Asia surface as the major factors involved in the language learning process. This study also shows that the socio-cultural identities of these women are continually changing, being constructed, sometimes conflicting, and are imposed on them by their socio-cultural position, as well as having an impact on and being impacted by the process of learning English as a second language upon their arrival in the UK. This further leads into a discussion of how social class might be a central factor in understanding the gendered nature of second language identities in the South Asian diaspora.

Research background: Migration, gender, class and language learning

There has been no comprehensive study of the policies that influence the arrival and settlement of women migrants...

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